Stem cell research is always controversial until it hits home. What if Mom starts becoming symptomatic with Huntington’s Chorea and is positively diagnosed? Children have a 50% chance of inheriting this dominant autosomal genetic disorder. If our child is diagnosed with a disorder such as Tay Sachs or Cystic fibrosis, would we then consider any and all possible options? Research has opened new doors to management and treatment of genetic disorders.
The harvesting of stem cells from embryos has given way to the study of stem cells through other methods, such as adult stem cells. A Japanese scientist, Shinya Yamanaka, discovered how to turn back time on adult rat cells and convert them into the equivalent of embryonic stem cells. Stem cells are pluripotent, that is, they can be induced to become any cell in the human body. A series of TED talks on the future of stem cells is worth exploring.
GENETICS OF HUNTINGTON’S CHOREA: Chromosome 4
GENETICS OF TAY SACHS AND CYSTIC FIBROSIS: Both parents must have the gene for the trait (Tay Sachs, Chromosome 15; Cystic fibrosis, Chromosome 7)